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Intellectual Property, DRM & Customers

20 Dec

I know this controversy is now about a zillion years old. But it illustrates some of my thoughts about companies’ values & principles only too well! I was going to write a long article about this, but then I came across Carla Schroder’s article The RIAA – Hollywood – DRM – Linux Suicide Pact on LXer, where she writes:

“I had already come to the conclusion that the fine folks behind the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Digital Rights Management, and the Business Software Alliance are either nuts, corrupt, or both. These are all things that Real People (like you and me) don’t need and don’t want. The DMCA is on shaky ground Constitutionally, but until we get a Constitutional amendment that requires new laws to pass Constitutional muster before they can be enforced, we will spend our lives enduring barrages of similar madnesses…

…I find myself wondering what sort of mindset would prefer to perpetuate an inferior product line and ignore what customers are willing to pay for, and instead devote considerable energies and money to fighting with their customers, and treating them like criminals, and purchasing punitive unenforceable laws, and sue tens of thousands of people, and plant destructive software into peer-to-peer networks and on customer’s computers, for which they should go to jail, but nooo, that won’t happen, instead of devoting those resources to improving their products, and delivering what customers want to pay for?

…Like Richard Stallman, I detest the sloppy, inaccurate, propagandistic term “intellectual property.” It deliberately implies that ideas and concepts can be owned. Well, they can’t. What we are talking about are copyrights, trademarks, and patents, or very specific implementations of ideas and concepts. In this discussion, we’re talking about copyrights and fair use. As an author, I have a fair bit of self-interest in copyrights. I don’t care to see my works copied and sold by someone else. By dang, if there is money to be made from my labors, I want it.

…I admit I am nervous about the concept of delivering a book entirely in digital format. I need to earn at least $40,000 from a book to make it worthwhile for me financially. Will digital delivery cut into my income? Or will it expand my readership by making the book available at a lower cost? I believe the latter. Sure, there are always freeloaders who are ingenious at getting things for free. But most folks are honest, and all they want is fair value. If I write sucky books that no one wants, like the way that the music industry releases crappy CDs, and Hollywood makes dopey movies that no one wants, I won’t sell more books by criminalizing customers and instituting lame copy-protection schemes.

…So here we have an entire industry exerting considerable effort to exclude a whole class of customers, because we use a computing platform that they cannot control. Sure, Microsoft will be happy to screw over its end users by including all manner of DRM nastiness. But in the end it won’t matter anyway- customers who choose to view their legally-purchased DVDs on Linux will easily, if illegally, find a way. What sort of madness is this?

Despite the attempts of the software and entertainment industries to convince us that we only license their products, not own them, most folks view items that they purchase as owned, and theirs to do with as they jolly well feel like. That’s the reality, and fighting that is futile. Their attempts to “protect” their “property” are laughable in any case. Professional pirates, the ones who copy and print off thousands of discs, aren’t even slowed down by their silly lawsuits and copy-protection schemes. The only ones who get hurt are their own customers- the very ones who pay actual money for their products.

The way to attract customers is to offer attractive products at a fair price, and be nice to them. Not strongarm them. You know that, I know that. Why don’t these bigshot corporations know that?”

For more on the Sony DRM Controversy, visit the following:
http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2005/11/sonys_drm_rootk.html
http://www.eff.org/news/archives/2005_11.php#004192
http://businessweek.com/technology/content/nov2005/tc20051122_343542.htm
http://www.boycottsony.us/
http://www.sysinternals.com/blog/2005/10/sony-rootkits-and-digital-rights.html

Get your free pdf copy of Freedom of Expression®: Overzealous Copyright Bozos and Other Enemies of Creativity here

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Posted by on December 20, 2005 in Biz/Tech, Thoughts

 

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